As expected after making his April Fools Day announcement on the matter, Pr*sident Donald Trump officially nominated Tennessean Mark Green to be the new secretary of the Army Friday. If confirmed, the Republican state legislator will follow Eric Fanning into the post. Fanning, who was confirmed for the job last May, is the first openly gay person to serve as Army secretary. On the other hand, the 52-year-old Green seems to have a problem with gays and this year sponsored a bill that critics labeled a “license to discriminate.”
The nominee for a job overseeing the Army’s 140 reserve installations and a $150 billion budget is a graduate of West Point who became a physician and served three tours in Afghanistan and Iraq, duty for which he received several medals, including a Bronze Star. Green initiated the paperwork for a run for the Tennessee governorship in January but said he would hold off making his run official until after the legislative session ends. If confirmed he would, of course, end his candidacy.
What has LGBTQ advocates “deeply concerned” with Green’s nomination, as my colleague Kerry Eleveld reported earlier this week, are his views about the rights of gays, lesbians, bisexuals, and transgenders. The American Military Partner Association, the nation's largest organization of LGBTQ military families and allies, is opposed to him:
We are deeply concerned over reports that Mark Green will be nominated as Secretary of the Army,” said AMPA President Ashley Broadway-Mack. “Green has made a shameful political career out of targeting LGBT people for discrimination. All soldiers and their families, including those who are LGBT, should have confidence that the Secretary of the Army has their back and is working for their best interest. Unfortunately, based on his vicious, anti-LGBT record, Mark Green cannot be trusted to ensure all those who serve have the support they need and deserve.”
As a Tennessee lawmaker, Green has consistently opposed LGBT equality and pushed legislation singling out LGBT people and their families for discrimination.
Like many states, Tennessee has no laws protecting people from discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. Some of the state’s cities, however, have enacted ordinances to shield LGBTQ workers. But Green has sponsored SB 127. This bill would have prohibited cities or other government bodies from taking “discriminatory action against a business entity on the basis of the internal policies of the business entity.”
That is, using language that Republicans so love to twist, the bill would bar cities from taking “discriminatory” action against a business that discriminates against LGBTQ persons. In other words, no city would be permitted to end a contract or refuse to sign one on the grounds a business did not have policies on the books to protect LGBTQ employees.
The bill passed the state Senate but did not clear the House and is dead for the rest of 2017.
Another group, VoteVets, has also taken a stand against Green. Steve Dunwoody, an Iraq War veteran who is a senior adviser to the group issued the following statement on April 5 before the nomination had been made official:
“Democrats and Republicans need to forcefully oppose this nomination, if it is made. Leaders that support policies that are discriminatory are not welcome in today’s military. Commissioned officers and Non-Commissioned officers are held to the highest standards that ensure an equal opportunity environment. State Senator Green’s sponsorship of legislation that allows for state-sponsored discrimination disqualifies him from consideration.
“Further, if nominated, Secretary Mattis must answer for what kind of message this sends down the chain of command about how seriously he takes issues of discrimination.”